How to Take Prerequisite Courses at a Community College

How to Take Prerequisite Courses at a Community College
Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.

Prerequisite courses are designed to check that a student is competent enough to advance to the next level of their college career. Typically, a community college is a great place to get some of these introductory coursework and general education requirements before transferring to a university.

This blog will provide insights that will help you through the process of taking prerequisite courses at a community college, explain their role in offering these courses, and outline the steps involved in completing them.

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What Exactly Do Prerequisites Mean?

Every degree type has foundational courses one must complete before enrolling in a more advanced course. Known also as general education courses, prerequisites are part of a building block system, such that higher-level courses build upon the knowledge established in lower-level courses typically taken during the first year or two of college.

Prerequisite courses cover essential concepts, theories, and skills that are foundational to a specific field of study. These courses must be completed before taking a particular course, giving you a solid background so you’re not completely lost or new to the subject before you take the class of interest.

By offering prerequisite courses, traditional colleges and programs prepare students for more specialized studies. Without a solid foundation, you may struggle to understand and succeed in higher-level courses. Some common prerequisites are

  1. High School Preparation: Some programs require students to have completed specific high school courses or achieved a certain GPA in those courses before being admitted.
  2. General Education Courses: These cover a range of subjects, including history, humanities, social sciences, and the arts. They provide students with a well-rounded education.
  3. Prerequisite Courses for Specific Majors: Certain majors might have specialized prerequisites tailored to their field. For instance, nursing prerequisites may include completing a basic human anatomy course before enrolling in a pathophysiology course.
  4. Introductory Courses: Many programs require students to complete introductory courses that provide a foundational understanding of the subject matter.
  5. Foreign Language Courses: Some liberal arts programs, especially in the humanities and social sciences, require students to complete language courses to improve their cultural understanding and communication skills.
  6. Computer Literacy: As technology becomes more integrated into various fields, many programs require students to demonstrate basic computer skills or complete introductory computer science courses.

Remember, the specific prerequisites you’ll need to fulfill vary from program to program and school to school. Be sure to do your research for your specific program to better understand what you’ll need to do to prepare.

What is the Difference Between a Prerequisite and a Corequisite?

Corequisite courses are classes you must take at the same time as another, usually during the same semester. Both courses are interrelated and complement each other regarding content and learning objectives, so you are unlikely to pass one without the other.

For example, a chemistry class might require a lab section as a corequisite, meaning you must register for the corequisite at the same time as you register for the class.

Courses listed as a prerequisite will require the grade to have been met before you can register, and other courses listed as a corequisite will allow you to register while still completing the corequisite course.

Differences between prerequisite courses vs corequisite courses
Prerequisites vs Corequisites

Benefits of Taking Prerequisite Courses at a Community College

There are many benefits to going to a community college for prerequisite courses:

Cost

Attending a community college is a great way to save money and at the same time check off the prerequisite requirements for a desired degree. With lower community college costs, many core course requirements can be satisfied before you enter a four-year institution where similar courses would cost much more.

So, by starting coursework at a community college, especially if you participate in a free community college program, you can reduce the overall cost of your bachelor’s degree.

Flexibility

Since about 40% of community college students work part-time or have a family to care for and therefore need to study part-time, many community colleges offer flexible scheduling options. They may be night classes or weekend classes in addition to the standard schedules.

This allows students to pursue prerequisite courses that align with their responsibilities while helping them find the best time to complete their courses. Schedule flexibility can be more difficult to find in traditional schools.

Convenience

Many community colleges are located within your community and are easily accessible within a short drive if you live at home with family. This reduces commute times and makes attending prerequisite classes more feasible, especially for those who must balance their studies with other commitments.

This convenience can lead to a better work-life balance and reduced stress.

Small Class Sizes

Class sizes are typically smaller at community colleges, which allows the students to interact better with one another, actively participate in classroom discussions, and have one-on-one conversations with teachers.

So, if you benefit from hands-on teaching, a community college can provide an ideal learning environment. Teachers can give more individual attention to students and tailor the experience to fit the needs of a smaller group.

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How to Take Prerequisites at a Community College: A Step-by-Step Guide

As you better understand the significance of prerequisites and their role in your academic journey, it's time to delve into the practical steps. This section will guide you through how to take prerequisites at a community college.

Keep in mind that institutions and their policies can differ, just as individual academic programs may have unique requirements. So, proper and careful planning is of utmost importance. Once you know your goal, whether it’s earning a specific degree or being admitted to a particular school, you should tailor your plan to align with it.

If you fail to plan or take proactive steps, you might end up taking courses not required for your chosen program. This can lead to spending additional semesters or even years completing unnecessary coursework. You might even miss out on important application and registration deadlines, ultimately wasting your time and money.

1. Research

Prerequisites serve an important purpose: to prevent undergraduates from registering for courses they’re not prepared to take.

Course catalogs and the school's official website are valuable resources for learning the specific prerequisites for your chosen program. Researching and familiarizing yourself with them will allow you to plan your course schedule effectively, making the best use of your time and efforts.

Some prerequisites may require some levels of writing, reading, or math skills. There are other prerequisites where you need previous coursework to have been completed before being enrolled in a certain course.

Know the policies of the schools you're considering, the specific program you intend to pursue, and, if you decide to take prerequisites at a two-year school, how to pay for community college.

Study the requirements carefully, noting the specific courses, credit hours, and any additional criteria. Research the transfer policies and agreements between the community college and the receiving university, and identify potential gaps in your plan, if any.

For better clarity and affirmation regarding questions about prerequisites and your college courses, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with an academic advisor. They can direct you to the right college courses for each semester that align with your intended major. They can offer advice on course sequencing, credit transferability, and academic planning and put you on the fast track to academic success.

Read our latest on the difference between community college vs university.

student researching their community college program prequisite course requirements
Step one is to research your program and course requirements.

2. Apply and Enroll

The requirements for admission into a community college will vary from school to school, similar to admission into a four-year institution. Understand your intended school's criteria and enrollment process early to secure admission.

Visit their official website or contact their admissions office to gather detailed information about application deadlines, required documents, waitlists, high school transcripts, and any placement tests you might need to take.

It is possible to complete your research online, but always be sure you’re applying to the specific program or registering for the specific courses you need. And of course, always double-check with an academic advisor.

3. Explore and Transfer

Follow up with your academic advisor and prospective transfer institution to improve your chances of a smooth transition. Regularly give updates about your progress, academic achievements, and any new questions you might have.

Reach out to the admissions department of your intended four-year school to clarify which courses will transfer and how they'll be credited toward your degree program.

Coordinate with both the community college and prospective university. This proactive approach will help you avoid surprises and ensure that your community college credits seamlessly integrate into your four-year degree.

Discuss your options with them about the next step once you complete the prerequisites at the community college.

Do you take more courses and get your associate degree first?

Do you opt for a gap year or gain work experience before continuing your education?

Do you directly transfer to your school of choice?

Advisors at both your community college and intended university can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you make the choice that aligns with your aspirations.

Interested in Community College Programming?

One key point to understand is that while your community college may offer guidance on transferability, accepting your earned credits ultimately lies in the hands of the receiving institution. So, while taking prerequisites has many advantages, it requires deliberate planning and thorough research right from the beginning.

Contact your community college and prospective transfer institution proactively for accurate and up-to-date information. Although the process may seem complex, remember that, with each step you take, you are closer to achieving your academic aspirations.

Campus offers an online associate degree in the business program that is great for students who want to study business or learn practical skills to enter the workforce or potentially continue to get a four-year degree!

Your potential is limitless, and community college can be the foundation for your academic success. Stay curious, be proactive, and don't hesitate to ask questions.

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